Peering into the Future. . .
What is a peer group (and why should I care)?
When we’re growing up, there always seems to be a lot of talk about our “peer group”, but what exactly is a peer group and why would I be talking about any of this now?
Well according to our good friends in the dictionary department; a “Peer group” is defined as a “Group of equals–A social group consisting of people who are equal in such respects as age, education, or social class” That’s all well and good, but again, how does any of this apply to a bunch of writers, photographers, and artists like ourselves who’s only real connection may be in our collective passion for our art?
Peers develop together
Even though I may be using this definition loosely, I generally think of a peer group as a group that is in a similar stage of development. In other words, it has nothing to do with age, gender, education, or social class — but more like a person’s level of experience. So for example, my personal peer group would probably be other artists/writers/photographers/etc.. who may know how to create really cool stuff, but who may not know what they’re doing when it comes to marketing their work in a world of blogs, social media, and online galleries. If this describes you, then you’re probably in the right place.
What this means is that we’re all about equally clueless and we are learning (i.e. making it up) as we go along. Some of us may be a few steps ahead of the group in some areas, while others of us may be a few steps behind, but we all continue to learn from each other. On the other hand, if you’re already a wildly successful artist, I going to guess that you’re probably not going to be get a whole lot from the rambling discussions on this site.
Peers support peers
It’s not all just about learning, however because along with knowledge, we often need some morale support from our peers as well. It is this aspect of the relationship that binds us together and creates a sense of community. When we share our doubts, concerns, fears, and small victories with one another, we begin to create a shared bond. What happens is that instead of feeling as if we are somehow competing with this other person, we find ourselves cheering for them because they are a member of our peer group. In other words, to see our peers succeed, is like seeing a small part of ourself succeed as well.
Peers pressure peers
Having said all that, it’s not all about sitting around the campfire and singing “Kumbaya” together either. Our peer group is not only there to support us, but it is also there to kick us in the ass when we may need it. Our peer group becomes our collective role model that shows us not only what it takes to move forward but also how hard we are going to have to work in order to get to where we want to go. In other words, just because we are all walking on the same path together, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be easy.
Those of you who have been doing this for awhile know that creating an online identity as an artist/writer/musician takes a helluva lot of time, effort, and persistence. There are literally millions of us creative souls out there online trying to get ourselves noticed, which is why we not only need to know what to do, but we have to have the initiative and self-discipline to go out there and actually work on it — every single day!
That’s where peer pressure comes into play. If you see everyone else in your peer group busting their ass everyday creating their art and creating their online identity, before long you’re going to find out that you have two choices. You can either work just as hard as they do and keep up with them, or you can fall behind. The bottom line here is that although your peers are there to support and encourage you along the way, it’s still up to you do sit down and do the actual work.
Creating our tribe of peers
When we talk about creating our online tribe, we’re not talking about the ones who may be far ahead of us on the path or the ones who will eventually come after us, instead we are talking about the people who are already out there walking beside us. We simply need to make the effort to find them and then introduce ourselves. This is the type of community we are trying to create here on this site. We’re not looking for someone to lead us. We’re not looking for someone to follow us. We’re simply looking for companions to walk down this sometimes dark path together.
If this is you, I hope that you will join us. . .
P.S. Sorry about adding more stuff to an already long rambling post, but the other day I had someone ask me about where all of the specific tips and marketing strategies were on Skinny Artist. She said that she enjoyed the articles ( I think she was just being nice) but that she was really looking for something a little more specific in order to build her personal brand and sell her art photography online.
I told her that because everyone discovers the site at different times, we came up with the idea of the Skinny Art School so that everyone would have the chance to start a particular course from the beginning. Starting with our first course: “How the @#$%! Do I get more Traffic to my Website?!” . Otherwise I figured it’s kind of like showing up at a new school in the middle of January, where you’re already four months behind and you don’t know what the hell anyone is talking about.
As we continue to develop more new courses, you’ll have the opportunity to pick and choose which courses you are interested in receiving while avoiding the ones you couldn’t care less about. We want to help you out anyway we can, but we also don’t want you to become bored with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t really interest you, so we keep a lot of this kind of stuff off the main site and in the Skinny Art School instead.
So if you happen to be one of those people looking for more specific tips, tools and marketing resources, I would really encourage you to check it out and let me know what you think!
Photo Courtesy of Steve Todey
About the Author
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.